In today’s Global Bulletin, a citizen journalist is sentenced to four years of jail time by the Chinese government, ITV Hub posts record 2020 statistics and Irrfan Khan-starrer “The Song of Scorpions” gets a special re-release to honor the actor.
Zhang Zhan, a former lawyer-turned-citizen journalist, has been sentenced to four years in prison, becoming the first publicly acknowledged person to be tried and convicted for contradicting the Chinese government’s official account of the COVID-19 pandemic. The trial lasted less than three hours, after which Zhang was sentenced on a vague charge often used against critics of the Chinese government.
At the trial, Zhang, who went on a well-publicized hunger strike before being force-fed by Chinese authorities, appeared in a wheelchair and was, according to her lawyer, unrecognizable from only a few weeks before, having lost significant weight.
Zhang left her home in Shanghai for Wuhan in February of this year to document what was happening at the center of the pandemic. She shared her experiences through several videos shot in hospitals and among the local population, struggling to sustain themselves under a strict lockdown.
From the start, Zhang was an outspoken opponent of the Chinese government’s response to the outbreak, questioning why news of the disease wasn’t shared more openly and honestly, and criticizing the severity of Wuhan’s lockdown conditions.
In May, Zhang’s publications were cut off abruptly and she stopped responding to messages from friends and colleagues. It was later revealed that she’d been arrested for lying and spreading false information and moved to Shanghai.
Unscripted content fueled ITV’s VOD service ITV Hub to record-breaking performances over 2020, with other genres trending up in what was an exceptional year for TV viewing.
Topping the year’s most-watched programming for ITV was the broadcaster’s juggernaut flagship reality program “Love Island.” Season 6 pulled in more than 130 million requests from the on-demand service, with daytime talk programs “Good Morning Britain” and “This Morning” coming in a distant second and third at 41.7 million and 28.2 million, respectively.
ITV Hub’s top dramas of 2020 were “White House Farm” and “Liar” at 13 million and 10 million requests each. Two factual shows broke the 1 million viewers barrier this year: “Gordon, Gino and Fred” and “Tyson Fury: The Gypsy King.”
“The Song of Scorpions,” a 2017 Locarno competition player, will get a special theatrical re-release in India to honor the memory of lead actor Irrfan Khan, who died earlier this year. Panorama Spotlight and 70 MM Talkies will handle the film’s distribution.
In his nearly four decades of on-screen work, Khan earned dozens of international and domestic awards, including the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honor, for his contribution to the field of arts. He is best known globally for his appearances in blockbuster and award-winning films such as “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Life of Pi” and “Jurassic World.”
“We will be offering this film to the audiences as a tribute to the beloved star of Indian cinema,” said Panorama’s Abhishek Pathak. “The era of cinema in India and abroad has benefitted from his acting prowess.”